Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Malawi) has criticized Malawi Congress Party (MCP) for keeping a drone belonging to state broadcaster Malawi Broadcasting Cooperation (MBC) that was caught hovering within the premises of the party’s headquarters in Lilongwe on Sunday.
MCP supporters are keeping the drone which they seized during the NEC as they suspected that MBC was using the item to spy on the MCP.
However, MISA Malawi Chapter has condemned the malpractice by the supporters in a statement that has been signed by its Chairperson Teresa Ndanga.
“The Malawi Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Malawi) would like to condemn the action of Malawi Congress Party (MCP) supporters for attacking reporters from Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) who had been assigned to take aerial visuals of City Centre in the Capital Lilongwe on Sunday, January 28.
“Reports indicate that MBC crew Prince Donda and Elias Chauluka were taking aerial visuals of the City Centre using a drone when MCP supporters attacked the crew on suspicion that they were filming an MCP National Executive (NEC) meeting which was allegedly under way at the MCP offices in the area,” says the statement.
According to the statement, the crew managed to escape without injuries but the drone is apparently with the MCP supporters.
MISA Malawi in the statement said that Lingadzi police station public relations officer Foster Benjamin confirmed the development to MISA Malawi on Monday, January 29 saying the law enforcers were overpowered when they tried to retrieve the drone.
According to MISA Malawi, Benjamin said the police are still investigating the matter.
“MISA Malawi would like to remind people that the media has a right to report within Malawi and abroad and to be accorded the fullest possible facilities for access to information.
“We believe taking footage of the City Centre or even coverage of the MCP meeting is no exception. The MBC crew clearly failed to do their work because of the conduct of the MCP supporters,” reads the statement.
According to the statement, the supporters created a hostile atmosphere for the journalists to undertake their assignment.
“The conduct of the MCP supporters was not only an interference with the work of the media but also a threat to the lives of the crew,” reads the statement.
MISA Malawi added that efforts to speak to MCP officials proved futile but the media body has advised MCP to investigate the matter and return the drone which they are still keeping.
“We would however like to call upon MCP authorities and leadership to arrange for the return of the drone and ensure that the matter is investigated and the culprits disciplined. MCP should also take measures to prevent any future attack on the media.
“Attacking reporters and treating them as criminals is barbaric and retrogressive. MISA Malawi would like to caution the general public against any form of attack on journalists in their line of duty,” adds the statement.
MISA Malawi has also stressed that journalists have a responsibility to report and inform Malawians on developments in the country and any form of attack on journalists is an infringement on not just the media’s right to gather and report but also citizens’ right to know.
The media body has however urged media houses to be professional in line of their duty.
“In the same vein we would like to call upon all media outlets and practitioners to be professional and impartial in their work. Only a professional media sector can safeguard our nascent democracy and facilitate socio-economic development of our country,” reads the statement.